X-rays used during a dental exam are absorbed by the denser portions, such as your teeth and bone, and less by the soft tissues, cheeks and gums, and produce the image by striking the film or x-ray sensor creating an image. Teeth appear lighter because fewer X-rays penetrate to reach the film. Cavities and the resultant bone loss from gum disease appear as darker areas because of more X-ray penetration. Interpreting these images is the job of your dentist and allows for them to safely and accurately detect hidden abnormalities.
When Are X-rays Needed?
How often dental x-rays should be taken depends on the patient’s individual health needs. It is important to recognize that just as each patient is different from the next, so should the scheduling of x-ray exams be individualized for each patient. Your medical and dental history will be reviewed and your dental health examined before a decision is made to take x-rays of your teeth.